Genestealer Cults: Rules Preview – Part 1

The Day of Ascension is almost upon us – Codex: Genestealer Cults is up for pre-order this Saturday! To celebrate, we’ll be taking a look at some of the amazing new content in the codex over the course of the coming week – be sure to check back regularly for your daily dose of Genestealer Cults goodness.

This article was originally published on the Warhammer-community site.

But before we go any further, we’ve got some insights from the brains behind Codex: Genestealer Cults.

There are a number of advantages to being a hypnotically indoctrinated army of alien hybrids. Let’s take a look at their army-wide abilities.

Unquestioning Loyalty

The Genestealer Cults have always had some iconic and powerful Characters, and this upcoming release more than doubles the choices available to you. As of this weekend, you will have a huge choice of new characters to field, each providing useful bonuses and abilities to augment your army. Where this army has the edge over other factions that benefit from a large cast of supporting Characters (such as the Astra Militarum or Harlequins) is that the Genestealer Cults Characters are very difficult to eliminate while surrounded by their loyal kin.

Essentially, each time one of your Characters fails a saving throw or suffers a mortal wound, and is within 3″ of a friendly Genestealer Cults unit with the Unquestioning Loyalty ability, you can roll a dice. On a roll of 4+, a model from the nearby unit is slain but your Character remains unharmed! This is a huge advantage* for lightly armoured characters who may otherwise be prime targets for enemy sniper units. Should your precious Character suffer a few wounds despite this, it’s nothing that the Hyber-metabolism Stratagem can’t fix!

Cult Ambush

This ability is at the very heart of everything it means to field the Genestealer Cults in battle. It represents the culmination of all the cult’s cunning machinations and careful planning that has led them to this battlefield. Cult Ambush gives you all the tools you need to start every battle on the front foot** – if you can maintain the momentum, victory will surely be yours.

The ability takes two forms according to how you choose to set up your units, so let’s take a quick look at each.

Setting Up Underground: During deployment, you can set up Infantry and Bike units with the Cult Ambush ability underground. At the end of any of your Movement phases, some or all of these units can emerge anywhere on the battlefield that is more than 9″ from enemy models. The freedom you’ll have to suddenly strike your opponent’s forces in great force from any direction will cause mayhem with their battleplans.

Setting Up in Ambush: Were you wondering what those 28 ‘blip’ counters that come with the codex were for? They are, in fact, Cult Ambush markers designed to help you play horrible mind games with your opponent as you set up!

Instead of setting up a unit underground or on the battlefield, you can choose to place an ambush marker anywhere within your deployment zone. You can place a marker for each unit you choose to set up an ambush – even Transports and larger Vehicles such as a Cult Leman Russcan be set up in this manner! The crucial detail here is that you don’t need to assign which units are represented by each ambush marker – you can decide that later. There is also a sneaky Stratagem that enables you to place additional ambush markers to further confound your opponent.

If you have the first turn, you reveal all of your ambush markers at the start of your first Movement phase. If your opponent goes first, you instead reveal all of your ambush markers at the end of their first Movement phase, and they cannot move anywhere within 9″ of any ambush markers beforehand.

These markers are revealed one at a time – each time you do so, you select one unit from your army that you set up in ambush, then set up one model from that unit within 1″ of that ambush marker, followed by any other models in the unit. All units set up in this manner must be wholly within your deployment zone – that is, unless you further mess with your opponent by changing the nature of your ambush.

Through cunning use of Cult Ambush, you can effortlessly deny a flanking manoeuvre, pull back from a charge threat, or force mismatches on your opponent once they have committed their forces to battle. Alternatively, you can press your early advantage, assailing your opponent with coordinated attacks and savaging their forces from the outset with a large horde of Purestrain Genestealers thanks to this utterly devastating Stratagem.

It’s fair to say that the Genestealer Cults have the ability to play in a manner quite unlike any other Warhammer 40,000 faction. If you’re looking to pre-ordering your codex – or a Limited Edition or Special Edition of the book – you can do so from this Saturday!

* Somewhat less of an advantage for the unfortunate (in)human shield.
** Or claw, depending on hybrid generation.


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About Reecius

The fearless leader of the intrepid group of gamers gone retailers at Frontline Gaming!

34 Responses to “Genestealer Cults: Rules Preview – Part 1”

  1. Avatar
    Yarium January 28, 2019 8:27 am #

    So what the heck does the Kelermorph’s ability of +3 to the Cult Ambush do? Very confuzzled. Still, works somewhat like I expected, though I thought the blips would move around the board until they were “seen”. Nice that you can still deep strike. 3CP to arrive and then shoot or move d6″ is expensive, but I frequently told people that it was generally a better result than a 6 on the ambush table because of the options it gave. Guess that arriving outside 3″ will be another 3CP strat.

    • Avatar
      Ujayim January 28, 2019 9:20 am #

      GW said it was just a temporary rule so you could use him for a week or two before the Codex is out on their FB page.

      • Avatar
        Zweischneid January 28, 2019 9:26 am #

        That’s the spin, anyhow.

        Probably just an “old” box that was printed some time before the Codex, probably alongside most other KT stuff, but just held back.

        • Avatar
          AbusePuppy January 28, 2019 10:27 pm #

          I mean, it almost certainly was produced (and hence the box finalized) before the codex was sent to printers, since making a model takes longer than printing a book. So it is not at all surprising that they would include a “legacy” version of the rules that would be useable for a short time before the full rules came out for it.

  2. Avatar
    CWDub January 28, 2019 8:28 am #

    Hyped up for this. Sounds like the Cult Ambush table is gone (GOD, I HOPE SO) and replaced with strategems.

  3. Avatar
    Vorag January 28, 2019 8:47 am #

    The blip thing seems pretty average….just delayed deployment really.

  4. Avatar
    Nick Wenker January 28, 2019 9:04 am #

    With the combination of being able to hide things and being able to change your mind after the fact, seems to me like GSC will be one of the best armies in the game for good players. I am jealous.

    • Avatar
      Ujayim January 28, 2019 9:23 am #

      Agreed. Curious what to see their toolkit does, but it seems like they’re getting all the complicated rules that made me love Daemons in 7th, between warpstorm, summoning, etc.

      Cerebral armies are fun armies.

  5. Avatar
    Zweischneid January 28, 2019 9:12 am #

    So “Ambush” is a sub-rule of “Cult Ambush”.

    That’s not gonna be confusing at all, lol. Does Perfect Ambush play off units in Ambush, or also off units Underground thanks to Cult Ambush?

    I foresee many fun discussions.

  6. Avatar
    Ujayim January 28, 2019 9:20 am #

    Do not know if I like it.

    Curious to see more, but I will miss scalpel precision of a primus and a large blob every turn.

  7. Avatar
    Brakhal January 28, 2019 10:16 am #

    Well, I don’t like these ambush rules, but I can understand why most of them have been changed…

    But 3 CP for a once per round banner of blood, that’s horrible. That cost is silly for a random number of inches to move.

    • Avatar
      AllHail January 28, 2019 4:20 pm #

      Anything that gives you a reliable charge out of deep strike is amazing, even at 3 CP, and they can do it multiple times per game and it can also double shooting instead.

      Imagine a Kellermorph popping up 12″ away from a character and getting to shoot twice….

      • Avatar
        Brakhal January 28, 2019 4:30 pm #

        The thing is, that extra d6 is far from reliable. If I’m not mistaken, a 9+ on 3d6 is closer to a 60% than it is to a 70%, unless you expend 1 or 2 extra CPs.

        That cost is excesive for something that doesn’t give you a reliable charge. As I said, the banner of blood is just 1 cp, and maybe it is too good, but 3 cps for the same thing isn’t.

        • Avatar
          red3_standingby January 28, 2019 6:40 pm #

          3d6 has a 74% chance of being 9+. So you’re making it about 3 out of every 4 times without any rerolls. Plus, since the d6″ you get from the strat actually moves you before the charge phase you can charge units that would otherwise be outside of 12″, which you can’t do with a 3d6″ charge.

          • Avatar
            abusepuppy January 29, 2019 10:29 pm

            Also, the Cult has access to the warlord trait that gives +1 to charge ranges for Aberrents/Abominants and you can always CP reroll either or both of the rolls to ensure it goes off.

  8. Avatar
    GABMAT January 28, 2019 11:22 am #

    i don’t understand that GW still sticks to their deep strike rule. It kills the best aspect of 40k battles what so many people found unique , the mix of shooting and close range combat. And what made it believable in a scifi-enviroment was the assault aspect , marines coming in with jet packs, drop pods raining from the skies , terminators teleporting in so on… They are the spearhead of the army, the first why would they need to wait

    For the sake of balance it would be enough to not allow deep strike in the first players turn.And still keeping of course the half army in reserves rule It would give the player going first the first round of shooting, and the ability to spread out and deny space for deep strikes. In return u could answer with some deep strikes.

    And to come to the genestealer cults they would ignore any deep striking rules. And then u would not need , cult ambush, perfect cult ambush and god knows how many more ambush rules we will see during this week.

    • Avatar
      AbusePuppy January 28, 2019 10:30 pm #

      They stick with it because they could see that the health of the game had suffered significantly as a result of first-turn reserves. Limiting the first player to not being able to get reserves (but not the second) would actually make things worse, as it would massively tilt the game in favor of the second player.

      • Avatar
        GABMAT January 29, 2019 9:43 am #

        Why would it tilt the game in favor of the second player ? The player who went first can bring his reserves in the next round. Its quite the opposite now the player who goes first can bring his reserves in as the first which gives the player going first such a huge advantage.
        I don’t have to move an inch with my aura buffed shooting castle because i can move in the next turn i don’t have to fear anything coming from reserves, And the poor player who went second has his army shot to pieces after two rounds of shooting, with limited board control to bring his reserves in ,

        It will be interesting to see the extracted data from the LVO. And the win rate of the players who went first. The dice can always come into play but i think the data not lie.

        • Avatar
          abusepuppy January 29, 2019 10:32 pm #

          It advantages the second player in most cases because the common use of reserves was to put units in so that they couldn’t be shot on the first turn, no matter what. Putting three Ravagers, three Fire Prisms, three DW Veteran Squads, etc, into reserve so that they are completely immune to enemy shooting on the first turn, but can then drop in immediately and open up with their own shooting is an incredibly powerful tool to have. It’s not about using your reserves to ambush enemy reserves- it’s about protecting your firepower in the early turns of the game.

          • Avatar
            abusepuppy January 29, 2019 10:33 pm

            Incidentally, the win rate for the second player is slightly but consistently higher in ITC missions, generally around 52-54%.

          • Avatar
            GABMAT January 30, 2019 8:57 am

            Its the problem of certain stratagems in certain codex’s that u can bring 5 fire prisms in for 5cp or even more if u want but u can bring max 1-2 biker and infantry models for 1/3 cp. makes no sense i still think the intention was to be able to bring one vehicle in or the price had to be 2cp per unit.

            The main point is that with the current deep strike rules u put 3 fire prisms in reserves and go first u can still bring them in after the second players first turn. So where is the difference if the player who goes second can bring in his reserves.

            And if u win the roll of u can still choose to go second if u think its better for u. The main problem was the first players turn deep strike that had to be changed ,

  9. Avatar
    KurtAngle2 January 28, 2019 11:53 am #

    Reecius can you tell us if the blip units count as Reserve or not?

    • Avatar
      Ujayim January 28, 2019 12:09 pm #

      Can confirm, would appreciate.

    • Reecius
      Reecius January 28, 2019 12:32 pm #

      Not yet, sorry =(

      I can spill all the beans on Saturday, I think. Will double check.

    • Avatar
      Kitani January 29, 2019 10:01 am #

      Definitely a very serious question, the answer to which may potentially make or break the entire mechanic

    • Avatar
      Kitane January 30, 2019 2:12 am #

      I suspect they will count as Reserve, unfortunately.

      “They Came From Bellow” stratagem shifts three units from blips to underground ambush, after the game starts.

      That is a strong hint the blips will count as reserves. If they weren’t, we would be able to basically start the game with 50% and 3 extra units in reserve for 1 CP.

  10. Avatar
    Draaen January 28, 2019 2:00 pm #

    The bleeps are an interesting deployment mechanic. Re-reading that paragraph a couple times it doesn’t protect your dudes from getting shot turn 1 as they are revealed at the end of my movement phase. If they go first they can move up and assault. It should make for more interesting skill based results instead of did I roll well enough on the ambush table.

    The one thing I can’t quite get my head around is lore wise why I cannot end within 9″. Can my flyers fly over them? I wonder if say my stealth suits can deploy within 9″ of a blip using their advanced deployment.

    Besides a couple questions the more I read that the more I like it! It will certainly be scary and make me think when playing against it.

    • Avatar
      Matt Ober January 28, 2019 2:21 pm #

      It prevents you from denying them the ability to place their dudes by moving your guys over the markers.

      For example, dropping Scouts on 32s onto the points in a pentagram shape would effectively delete that marker, and there doesn’t seem to be any rules for dropping from ambush into reserves outside of They Came From Below, so if the one unit in ambush is a vehicle, it would just destroy itself.

      Probably better to play-around that than to allow them to drop four markers from the cheapest unit available and create an impenetrable, impassable wall at the front of their deployment zone for the opponent’s first movement phase though.

      • Avatar
        AbusePuppy January 28, 2019 10:28 pm #

        It also prevents some weirdness with units that are prohibited from being within 9″ of enemy units, but as the Ambush markers aren’t units they would be able to get as close as they wanted.

        • Avatar
          Dr Zaius January 29, 2019 6:08 am #

          So using a mere 1CP can I prevent any enemy model entering my deployment zone? Great!

          • Avatar
            abusepuppy January 29, 2019 10:34 pm

            Entering your deployment zone in the movement phase, yes. Do you really have a lot of enemy models doing that during the game? Maybe a flyer once in a while, hardly ever anything else.

      • Avatar
        Draaen January 29, 2019 6:21 am #

        Oh yeah they need the protection from a game balance perspective. It would be a feel bad experience if you could only deploy a unit or two cause you had super fast harlies hopping on most of your tokens turn 1.

        What I meant was I am curious if they have a lore justification why my models can’t go within 9″ or if it will just be head cannon. Like my stealth suits are picking up blips on their radar when they get close so slow down as they are being overly cautious since they think an ambush is imminent.

        Just curious on the lore. It’s a cool strong thematic rule. Which is how it should be for a faction defining ability.

        • Avatar
          Victor January 29, 2019 6:32 am #

          Of course they don’t have a lore justification for not being able to deploy within 9″ of enemy models. Just for game balance. I can’t find any practical sense for that in real life

  11. Avatar
    addnid January 30, 2019 12:19 am #

    Reecius can you tell us if we get leman russ punishers ? Is it a minor bean enough that you can spill it 😀 ?
    Sorry for asking this, but I foresee so much fun with the blip thing (“now from where will the 40 shots come from”) 😀

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